Work and Travel in Jamaica
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN JAMAICA FOR TRAVELLERS
Sitting just south of Cuba in the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica is perhaps the most widely-known island nation of the Caribbean, evoking images in traveller’s minds of white sand beaches, reggae music, and jerk chicken.
Jamaica is the third-largest English speaking nation behind the U.S. and Canada. This, along with the natural beauty, makes it a very tempting destination for working travellers seeking to live in a location they would normally only vacation to.
But if you want to work and travel in Jamaica, there are certain realities you need to understand. Read below for our thorough travel guide to this famous island.
1. Beach clean-up projects
The high rate of tourism and lack of infrastructure in some areas of Jamaica means the responsibility to keep the shoreline clean is placed on locals. You’ll be able to find volunteer work helping lead beach clean-ups. Often they’ll be organised by local hostels or community centres, places where you may operate find room and board work exchanges or even paid work.
2. Teach at a surf camp
Many hostels are based around offering surf lessons to backpackers. If you can surf well, you’ll be able to get paid for passing on your skills. Otherwise, you can use the skills you have to exchange for surf lessons (building and maintenance of infrastructure, for example).
3. Skateboard with disadvantaged youth at a community centre
Certain neighbourhoods like Boston Beach see fewer tourists and have higher rates of poverty and child homelessness. If you’re actually looking to make a difference and help the locals as opposed to just enjoying the beaches along with other tourists, then seek out one of the many opportunities available for working travellers with skills in youth counselling.
You’ll play with the children and use some fresh ideas on how to entertain and teach them with limited resources.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR JAMAICA
For stays of six months or less, no visas are required for citizens of the UK, US and Commonwealth countries. Nationals of several EU countries, Brazil, Chile, Israel and Mexico don’t need a visa for stays of up to 90 days. Residents of some EU countries are allowed only a 30-day visa-free stay; Check HERE for further details.
All other nationals require visas (nationals of most countries can obtain a visa on arrival, provided they are holding valid onward or return tickets and evidence of sufficient funds).
If your goal is set towards working and living in Jamaica though, you first must obtain a work permit from the Minister of Labour in Kingston before you can even start thinking about applying to jobs. Once you acquire this necessary document, however, you can start applying online, sending out resumes, and networking.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN JAMAICA
Early spring is the tail end of the busiest tourist season, so not the best time to arrive if you’re seeking employment in the tourism industry. The weather is gorgeous during this “shoulder season”, however, so it’s a perfect time to join in on a farming, agricultural, or sustainable building project.
If you have gardening experience this is a good opportunity to broaden your knowledge into growing tropical farm projects such as coconuts and breadfruit.
Earthbag and rammed earth building projects spearheaded by expats are becoming more commonplace in the rural areas, so make sure to advertise your alternative building skills to hosts around this time of the year.
You’ll find high heat and humidity in Jamaica during the summer months, so it’s the slowest time of the year for tourism in Jamaica. It’s also the start of the hurricane season, which will last until early autumn.
Now would be the time to seek out work and travel community projects such as those working with children, the disabled, the homeless, or beach clean-ups. Backpackers vying for spots on animal conservation projects this time of year will be lower, so your chances of getting accepted will be higher.
Summer is a great time to show up in Jamaica if you are seeking a slower pace and a chance to get to know the locals.
The hurricane season will end by early November, so arriving now will help you secure the desirable, high-paying positions in the run-up to the high tourist season in the winter.
This is go-time for working travellers in the hospitality industry in Jamaica’s busy tourist sector.
Negril is a laid-back beach destination, so head here to work in bars, restaurants, or hostels. Montego Bay caters to the upscale market, so if you have professional-level hospitality skills you can command higher pay in these resorts. Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, and of course, the capital of Kingston, are some of the best destinations for working travellers to find work in the winter high season.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN JAMAICA
Jamaica is a famously tourist-friendly country. But along with the comforts of working and travelling in a diverse environment comes the dangers and risks of tourist touts, robberies, and the like, so always keep your wits about yourself.
Doing business in Jamaica is all about relationships and contacts, rather than following the rules. Jamaicans value politeness and formality, and they will expect respect when it is due, so don’t try to be too friendly or informal straight away — it’s important to be professional.
Now that you know what it takes to work and travel in Jamaica - have you got your bags packed?
- Edited on Jun 14 2021 by Lily